NFL week 13: San Francisco 49ers beat Miami Dolphins while Deshaun Watson wins on return from suspension

By Paul HighamBBC Sport

The San Francisco 49ers won their big game against the Miami Dolphins but lost another starting quarterback for the season after Jimmy Garoppolo broke his foot.

Joe Burrow rallied the Cincinnati Bengals to victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in their play-off rematch, while Aaron Rodgers led a Green Bay Packers comeback against the Chicago Bears.

Deshaun Watson was booed upon his return and the Philadelphia Eagles won again to still hold the NFL's best record at 11-1.

Several big names went down with injuries, while there was also a rare tied game as the New York Giants and Washington Commanders could not be separated.

San Francisco left with 'Mr Irrelevant' after losing second QB to injury

Brock Purdy
Brock Purdy was the last pick of the NFL draft - which is known as Mr Irrelevant each year

Two of the hottest teams in the league met in San Francisco where the 49ers had to lean on rookie Brock Purdy to steer them to a 33-17 victory over the Dolphins to join Miami on 8-4 for the season.

After losing starter Trey Lance earlier in the season, the 49ers lost their second quarterback of the season as Garoppolo, who led them to the Super Bowl three seasons ago, left the game with a broken foot.

With one of the best teams in the league and holding genuine Super Bowl chances, San Francisco currently have rookie Purdy as their QB. He has the rather unfortunate label as this season's 'Mr Irrelevant' having being chosen with the 262nd and very last pick of the 2022 NFL draft.

Purdy stepped up pretty well with two touchdown passes but the Niners' defence was again the star as they bottled up Miami's previously flying offense - sacking Tua Tagovailoa three times, intercepting him twice and forcing a fumble.

Burrow digs Bengals out of trouble again against Chiefs

Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow dives in to score as he helps beat the Chiefs for the third game running

After beating the Chiefs to a place in the last Super Bowl, the Cincinnati Bengals defeated them again as Joe Burrow led a fourth-quarter comeback to edge out Patrick Mahomes' side 27-24.

It's now four wins on the spin for the Bengals, who have won their past three against the Chiefs and that could be significant with both teams set to make the play-offs again in the AFC.

"We've still got five weeks left," said Burrow, who is playing his way into the Most Valuable Player (MVP) conversation.

"Let's keep this train rolling. This team knows what it takes to win these games. We've been there. It's December. It's time to separate ourselves."

Watson booed upon return from suspension in Houston

Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson did have some fans in Houston

Controversial quarterback Deshaun Watson finally made his belated Cleveland Browns debut after completing an 11-game ban for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy - stemming from an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Browns handed Watson a record fully guaranteed contract of $230m in the summer, but he was more than a little rusty as he made his first NFL regular season appearance in exactly 700 days - after sitting out the 2020 season while with the Houston Texans after demanding a trade.

His first game back came against the Texans in Houston, where he was booed on almost every snap in a half-empty NRG Stadium as the Browns beat the league's worst team 27-14.

Watson failed to lead a touchdown drive though, as Cleveland's defence scored two touchdowns and their special teams scored on a punt return - the first time in 33 years the team had scored three times in one game without the offense on the field.

"They're supposed to boo," said Watson, who agreed to settle 23 of the 24 civil sexual misconduct lawsuits against him in the summer. "I'm a Cleveland Brown now, and we're on the road, so they're supposed to boo."

Eagles & Vikings win again - rare tie between NFC East rivals

There was talk of the Green Bay Packers sitting a struggling Aaron Rodgers, but a visit to the Chicago Bears was just what he needed as he led an 18-point blitz in the fourth quarter to win it 28-19 - their eighth straight victory over their rivals.

Justin Fields gave another impressive display for the Bears, with a sixth straight game with a touchdown run, but yet again it was not enough as Chicago were officially eliminated from play-off contention while the Packers cling on to their slim hopes at 5-8.

At the top of Green Bay's division sit the 10-2 Minnesota Vikings, who edged yet another close game 27-22 against the New York Jets and are now just a win away from clinching their play-off spot with the NFC North title.

The Vikings are still the second seed in the NFC behind the Philadelphia Eagles, who beat the Tennessee Titans 35-10 led by another Jalen Hurts masterclass - with their own MVP candidate throwing for 380 yards and three TDs and also running another in himself.

Hurts has shown multiple ways to win games when steering the Eagles to their fourth 11-1 record - their 1949 team won the NFL Championship while the 1980 and 2004 Eagles both lost the Super Bowl.

Jalen Hurts with AJ Brown
Jalen Hurts (left) and AJ Brown (R) are one of the best quarterback-wide receiver combinations in the league

The Washington Commanders and New York Giants had to settle for a 20-20 tie after both defences took charge in overtime - leaving both well in the hunt for wildcard spots in the play-offs.

Jackson injury blow for Baltimore

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said quarterback Lamar Jackson's knee injury is not season-ending, but it will still be a worry despite back-up Tyler Huntley scoring a late winning touchdown to edge a 10-9 scrap against the Denver Broncos.

Huntley scored with just 28 seconds left to keep the Ravens top of the AFC North but although he's a quality back-up in the Jackson mould, Baltimore will want their former MVP back as soon as possible.

The Seattle Seahawks were also late 27-23 winners over the Los Angeles Rams thanks to a career-best performance from Geno Smith, who threw for 367 yards and three scores.

Elsewhere, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Atlanta Falcons 19-16, the Detroit Lions smashed the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-14 and the Las Vegas Raiders defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 27-20.

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